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If You Like Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” Thank Bob Crane

HOGAN’S HEROES remains a huge hit in TV reruns. Bob Crane played Colonel Robert Hogan and was twice nominated for an Emmy Award. But he began his career on New York radio in 1950, then continued later in Los Angeles, where his morning show on the CBS Radio flagship station, KNX, was a sensation. It was no contest, Crane was “King of the LA Airwaves.” Being the top radio personality in the world’s entertainment capital attracted top guests for celebrity interviews– stars like Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, and Marilyn Monroe. So in 1962 when Jack Paar announced his retirement from THE TONIGHT SHOW, NBC’s first choice to take over was Bob Crane, who had already appeared as a guest during Jack Paar’s tenure. Crane repeatedly declined the offer, but not until first trying out the job for one week as guest host. Finally, Crane concluded he would rather pursue an acting career, and later said he never regretted his decision. The network had to settle for its second choice to emcee their talk show, the star of an ABC-TV afternoon game show, Johnny Carson. Ironically, Bob Crane had been a substitute host on Carson’s show, titled WHO DO YOU TRUST?